Religion Today Summaries -- August 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Corsswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- August 23, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • SBC Leader Warns Church About Islam's Conquest of Europe
  • Jordanian Court Rules in Custody Battle
  • Fresh Arrests as China Pursues Religious Crackdown
  • Relief Ministry Targets Florida in Hurricane Charley Aftermath

SBC Leader Warns Church About Islam's Conquest of Europe
Allie Martin, AgapePress

An official with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention says if Christians fail to respond to the spread of Islam, it will eventually become the dominant religion throughout Europe. The IMB's Chris Mills notes that indigenous Europeans have low birth rates, while many of the immigrant populations that are moving into the region have high birthrates. Therefore, he says, it is only a matter of time before the nations of Western Europe begin to experience a shift in the balance of culture and world view. Mills, who made his comments on Mission Network News, says while increased opportunities for sharing the gospel abound, many European Christians are simply not acting on them. In fact, he notes, many times as Muslims move into an area, Christians move away. "Rather than reaching out to the neighbors, they're running." The result of this trend is that more and more of the continent is being conceded to Islam," Mills says. The SBC official notes that "Islam is the fastest growing religion in Western Europe." He warns of a growing need for Christian missionaries in Europe if the rapid spread of Islam is to be countered.

Jordanian Court Rules in Custody Battle
Charisma News Service

An Islamic court has rejected a teenage Christian girl's lawsuit to cancel her Muslim uncle's legal guardianship. The June 20 ruling was a setback for Christian widow Siham Qandah, whose estranged brother Abdullah al-Muhtadi has been trying for six years to take custody of her daughter Rawan, 15, and son Fadi, 14, in order to raise them as Muslims, Compass Direct reported. In April, the court in Amman had ordered an investigation into allegations that al-Muhtadi had embezzled nearly $20,000 of the children's U.N.-allocated trust fund, which they received after their father was killed while on a peacekeeping mission with the Jordanian army. Judge Mahmud Zghul said he ruled in favor of the Muslim guardian "because all withdrawals from the children's trust account have been duly authorized by a judge, as required." a Christian friend of Qandah from Amman told Compass, "This judge knows that if he rules against Siham's brother, other judges will be in trouble. Now, Siham is in real trouble." Qandah and her children have gone into hiding several times while awaiting a judicial solution to the custody battle. The courts have blacklisted the children from leaving Jordan and international treaties prevent most nations from offering them visas, Compass reported.

Fresh Arrests as China Pursues Religious Crackdown
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Further evidence of the crackdown on religious believers in China has emerged with news of fresh arrests, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). Eight underground Roman Catholic priests and two underground Roman Catholic seminarians were arrested on August 6, at around 6 pm, during a religious retreat in Sujiazhuang Village in Quyang County in Hebei Province, CSW reports. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, which reported the arrests, stated that nine of the ten arrested belong to the Baoding Diocese. “Around twenty police vehicles and a large number of security policemen surrounded Sujiazhuang Village and conducted house-to-house searches to carry out the arrests. The detainees are now being held in the Baoding Security Bureau,” CSW said.  CSW said the arrests occurred the same day as a number of other incidents targeting religious believers. “These included the arrest of over a hundred Protestant house church leaders meeting for a retreat in Tongxu County in Kaifeng City in Henan Province. China Aid Association has reported that the families of six of those arrested have now been given formal notice of the ‘criminal detention’ of their family members. Contrary to principles of justice, Chinese law allows for administrative detention of up to three years. Family members of those arrested were also targeted in the following days.

Relief Ministry Targets Florida in Hurricane Charley Aftermath
Agape Press

Emergency crews from Samaritan's Purse are helping repair houses for families hit hard by Hurricane Charley. The first of two tractor-trailer units loaded with emergency tools and supplies from Samaritan's Purse arrive in Florida last Saturday, just one day after Hurricane Charley made landfall. Crews from the ministry are in Punta Gorda using chainsaws to remove trees off houses, and using sheets of plastic to weatherproof the damaged roofs. Wendle Capps, who is overseeing relief efforts for the ministry in Punta Gorda, says the devastation is widespread -- but there are also opportunities to share the gospel. "Whenever we help a homeowner, we'll try to do what we can -- patch the roof, cut the trees.  And then we have the volunteers who actually helped with the clean-up for that particular family sign a Bible," Capps explains.  "The last thing we do when we leave that house is present [the family] with that Bible, have prayer with them, and ask for special needs and prayer concerns." Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief organization based in Boone, North Carolina, that works in more than 100 countries worldwide.